Sunday, February 10, 2013

Eat local!

Huevos Montulenos. $10, gluten-free.

Seems to me that one of the biggest boosts to re-localizing our economic activity will be the sheer delight of local foods. This morning I had a delicious breakfast at Roots Catering, a Chico business that, having success under its belt with its catering and banquet hall business is expanding into the restaurant arena. Owners David and Kelly Gomez put strong emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, high quality, and excellent service. In my single at-table encounter, I can say they have succeeded on all counts. I also happen to know two of their employees (one is my nephew, who served me this morning!), and all reports indicate that Roots is serious about delivering on its commitments. The restaurant uses their banquet hall space. It's a warm and sunny space of columns and arches, with bar/register in the middle, dividing the hall into two lobes. The lovely faux-finish floor complements the warm paint tones in the walls, and guests are surrounded by large photo prints of local Chico points of interest. I can imagine the space becoming very reverberant with a noisy party crowd, but acoustical fine points can be addressed later. They've been open for breakfast only a month, and have plans to add lunch soon.

My breakfast, pictured above, came recommended by my server, and was a delightful blend of flavors. Stacked atop two crispy-fresh corn tortillas were grilled ham, gouda cheese, black beans, and two eggs over medium, liberally topped with chipotle salsa, peas, green onions, and queso fresco from nearby Orland Creamery (20 miles west of Chico). Perfectly prepared plantains played king-of-the-hill on this filling and delicious breakfast stack. Everything tasted fresh and what could easily have become a soggy, chaotic sludge pile maintained the integrity of the individual components while blending together into a compatible whole. On the side, the chicken apple sausages were among the best I've had. I don't know their origin, but I presume they are house-made, or at least locally acquired. The tortillas appeared to be house-made, though I didn't verify that. With a glass of sadly not fresh-squeezed orange juice (something they could add in future, given the manpower), I was out the door for about $16 before tip (I tipped my nephew well; I want him to think fondly of his visiting uncle!). And I was full and very pleased. The best breakfast I've had out in a long time!

This is what it's about, folks. Fresh, local food, prepared (and served!) by people you know, or could easily come to know—members of your community, your circle of immediate financial influence, if you will. Toss in a few well-considered culinary ideas (the rest of the Roots breakfast menu was so tempting I was hard-pressed to make my selection), and you've got the makings of a community-building local destination that helps make the ties that bind. Us. Together. As we always are, and should recognize the fact.


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